John Muir (1838–1914)

American naturalist and environmentalist. Muir’s family emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1849 and settled in Wisconsin. An avid student of nature, Muir studied geology and botany at the University of Wisconsin, though he left without taking a degree. As a young man, Muir traveled widely in the western United States to study its flora and fauna. He became a vocal advocate for what was then called “preservationism,” co-founding the Sierra Club in 1882 to promote the protection of wilderness areas from development. Muir’s efforts are largely responsible for the creation of Yosemite National Park; in 1976 the California Historical Society voted him “The Greatest Californian.” His writings, which celebrate wilderness and extol the natural beauty of the American West, include such classics as The Mountains of California (1894) and My First Summer in the Sierra (1911). See also